A couple of days ago, I read an interesting blog-post about looking at the place where one lives “through the eyes of a traveler” (read the original post: A Little Tourist… Home Through the Eyes of a Traveler), so when my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, who are visiting from Canada, told us that they hoped to visit a few wineries, we decided to go on a wine-tour in the Maremma with them!
I asked my friend Carlo to help me plan our Maremma wine tour: he owns an agriturismo near here and we always work together to scout the most interesting places in the area for our guests at Casina di Rosa and at his lovely Podere Vignali. We decided on a half-day itinerary with three stops at three wineries in the wine region where we are: the Montecucco D.O.C. wine region. Montecucco is a new denomination, but it is becoming more and more popular with excellent results both nationally and internationally.
Most of the wineries in the area are small, with very few exceptions. I really wanted to visit one of these larger wineries: the brand new winery Cantina Pieve Vecchia. I also wanted to meet its owner, Marco Monaci, whom I had “e-known” for a while… so to speak! We had exchanged messages on Facebook and Twitter and Marcel and I had celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a great dinner at his father’s fabulous restaurant in Campagnatico, La Locanda del Glicine. That’s when we first heard about their project for a winery which could, at the same time, help make the local d.o.c. wine known and work as a venue for events as well.
We left from Civitella around 2:30 pm and headed to the first winery: Vegni Medaglini near Castel Porrona. We chose this winery both for their excellent wines and nice owners but also because we wanted to take a walk in the beautiful Porrona castle after the tasting. It is such a lovely hamlet! And the drive to get there is also very beautiful.
First we visited their vineyards, then we visited their cellar. They explained how they produce their wine and then took us to the tasting room where we tried at least 6 wines (a white, a rosé and a few red wines). They also let us try their grape jelly, which is delicious and perfect to accompany pecorino cheese. The visit was very interesting and I got to buy two bottles of one of my favourite wines, L’Addobbo, a riserva and a regular one.
We left the vineyard and went to Porrona. We took a walk around: the place is just amazing. The hamlet is partly a hotel, with apartments, a swimming pool and a tennis court. The entire castle has been restored and it’s simply picture perfect. It’s like going back in time.
We were already running late after the first stop so we left to go to Le Calle winery, in Poggi del Sasso. They have a nice little cellar, and a very pretty tasting room, nicely decorated in a traditional Tuscan style. Very rustic, but done with great taste. However, I did not like the visit there very much. The owner has a 4 month old baby, so we had to wait for 10 minutes before she came down to meet us and then she talked all the time with Carlo in Italian (which left some of the people in our group out of the conversation) and mostly about stuff that had nothing to do with their wines. She let us try 5 wines, but without explaining anything or even talking about them. It was awkward, especially because we had guests who went there in the past and had a great time. Maybe it seemed even worse because we drove quite a while to get to their place, so in the end I was quite disappointed. Anyway, their wines were ok, especially the rosé, of which I bought a bottle that has already been drunk, so it was not a total waste of time!!
We then left to go visit Cantina Pieve Vecchia near Campagnatico. We got there at least one hour later that we should have and Marco was so nice as to wait for us, despite the fact that he had to be at his father’s restaurant soon. The winery is an impressive building, a designer’s joy for sure, in a stunning position at the center of all their vineyards, with great views over the hills of the Maremma.
Marco gave us the tour of the winery. The place is certainly unique: very modern and thoroughly thought out in all details. Another interesting thing is that it is built almost entirely underground so as to have as small an impact on the landscape as possible.
It is also not a small winery: it is quite large and ready to produce a significant number of bottles. They have 7 labels. They are new in the wine industry so they are not working at full regime yet, but the place is clearly ready to become a landmark in the Tuscan wine panorama.
We visited the wine-fermentation room with its enormous, high-tech steel “tuns”, then we moved to the cellar with the wooden barrels. That part deserves a few words of its own. I think it’s a work of art. The room is lit with a light purple light, and at the back a modern designer lounge with tables, lamps, comfortable chairs and a shelf with their wines makes for the perfect venue for chic events. It really is a cool place.
We continued to the new area that they have just finished last month: a top-scale professional kitchen, a conference room for 60 people with wireless connection with the kitchen so that even high-tech cooking classes are possible, open spaces for events, large panoramic windows with breath-taking views of the Maremma. Cantina Pieve Vecchia is a design work of art in my opinion. It’s very modern, but I think it fits in with the environment in which it’s situated very well.
We tasted two of their wines in a lovely tasting room, a white vermentino wine, Campo del Noce, and their top red wine, Chorum. I loved them both and bought a bottle of each one of them. The white vermentino wine will be perfect for tonight’s aperitivo! The other wine will be ideal when the wild-boar season starts again!
Cantina Pieve Vecchia was the perfect last stop of our wine tour in the Maremma, and offered a different view on Montecucco wine production. I expect to hear much about this winery in the next few years and I think they will do great things for the Montecucco wine denomination.
Everybody seemed to have had a great time. All in all I think two wineries would have been enough, and I would have liked to have arranged for a little snack too, to make sure we were not just drinking on an empty stomach. We’ll know for our next wine adventure!